DCM Portfolio Companies & the COVID-19 Crisis
There is a “Pre-COVID” world and there’s now a “Post-COVID” world. The global scale of this pandemic has caused unprecedented actions from governments, companies and health systems and have impacted daily life at scale more than any other event in recent memory.
As most of us are staying at home and closely tracking 24/7 COVID-19 news, we wanted to recognize frontline health workers and workers of essential businesses for keeping us safe, fed and healthy. We also wanted to highlight some of the important and exciting work of several of our portfolio companies during this crisis.
The first three portfolio companies, Mendel, Scanwell Health and Origin are using technology to directly address and help the COVID-19 crisis. The final three companies, Siren, Plenty and Tempo, are focused on providing a sense of normalcy and doing their part while many of us are staying at home.
Clinical AI research company Mendel.ai recently introduced a free, AI-powered search engine built for medical analysis. Researchers, epidemiologists and clinicians can use this tool to ask questions about COVID-19 and glean relevant answers in seconds — a process that can take a human numerous hours, days or even weeks to conduct. With the help of Mendel’s AI, researchers have already found 30 potential drug treatments for COVID-19. One of these discoveries is Diltiazem, a drug used for hypertension, that may be effective in halting the virus replication of COVID-19; the evidence dates back to 2006 but isn’t widely known among the scientific community today. Researchers can access Mendel’s Covid-19 search engine here.
One of the most important factors for getting everyone back to work is rapid, accessible testing. Scanwell Health has partnered with Innovita and Lemonaid Health to introduce an at-home, serology-based testing solution for individuals with potential COVID-19 exposure. The testing is looking for antibodies to determine if you’ve been exposed to Covid-19. While much is unknown about this novel coronavirus, the idea is anyone who has antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 have been exposed to the virus, including those who have recovered or are asymptomatic. Scanwell is using their expertise in both UX design and medical test kits to develop and distribute a COVID-19 test for at-home use that will provide individuals with rapid results and telemedicine oversight. The test is awaiting FDA approval. Read more here.
Scanwell is also partnering with North Carolina and Wake Forest Baptist Health for a 1,000 person study to track the virus and understanding immunity over time.
Due to massive shortages in healthcare supplies, San Francisco based startup Origin has rapidly shifted its resources and operations from being a 3D printer manufacturer to becoming a medical device manufacturer. Origin has partnered with Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s 3D Printed swab initiative and Stanford University School of Medicine to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) and FDA-approved COVID-19 swabs for test kits.
Origin is uniquely positioned to help speed up the manufacturing process for test swabs, which have historically been limited to only a few factories in the world and are difficult to manufacture due to their myriad of complex design features. Utilizing its Open Additive Manufacturing process, a single “Origin One” printer can print up to 1,500 swabs in under eight hours. As of April 12, the company has completed clinical trials and validation of its 3D-printed nasopharyngeal swabs for use in COVID-19 test kits.
We also wanted to highlight a few companies below that are helping specific at-risk populations such as those with diabetic neuropathy (Siren Care), as well as products helping the general population stay fed (Plenty) and stay fit (Tempo) while staying at home.
Siren is providing remote patient monitoring and podiatry for people with neuropathy. Those at risk for diabetic foot ulcers are particularly vulnerable during COVID-19, and Siren’s smart socks and monitoring platform enables providers to remotely care for patients while keeping everyone at home. Siren has dramatically ramped up production during the COVID-19 pandemic to support podiatrists and primary care physicians with their diabetic neuropathy patients.
Vertical farming company, Plenty has doubled its production capacity to meet an increase in demand from retailers and the community, continuing to serve Bay Area grocers like Whole Foods and Safeway, as well as donating produce to critical social services organization SF Marin Food Bank and Project Open Hand. Plenty continues to grow their greens in hyper-clean rooms using advanced robotics and little human contact, ensuring farms continue to operate safely amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Tempo is a smart at-home fitness solution that launched during COVID-19. Search volume for “work out at home” has increased 500% in the past month as fitness centers closed. With Tempo, users can stay active with live and on-demand strength, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes while safely at home. While working out is considered a luxury during a pandemic, Tempo is doing their part to keep folks fit and healthy for those of us lucky enough to stay home.
All of us at DCM are proud of the hard work from our founders and their teams in stepping up during this crisis. We will continue to support and work alongside our portfolio companies as we navigate the uncertain times ahead.